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comment on proposed registry contract

  • To: biz-tld-agreement@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: comment on proposed registry contract
  • From: Joop Teernstra <terastra@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 27 Aug 2006 21:18:02 +1200

To the  ICANN Board,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to give my comments on the proposed .biz , .info and .org registry agreements.

Domain name registrants are drivers of growth.
Due to the structure of the DNS and the economics of internet presence promotion, they are also captive customers of their registries.

ICANN is to provide stability in the DNS.
Via the mechanism of the registry contracts, it has taken upon itself to prescribe the products that its accredited registries, via their registrars, can offer to registrants.

It also prescribes a legal form that limits "ownership" of a domain to a 10 year contract.
These product prescriptions already have the effect of limiting competition.

Now the proposed contracts with the above mentioned three TLD registries would give them the additional bonus of unlimited pricing power.

"Pricing power" over the continuation of a registrants' own assets opens the door to racketeering. A 6-month notice to registrars on general price increases and the possibility of selective domain name based increases still leaves the registrants completely exposed to potential abuse.

ICANN has a public responsibility. These contracts should be used to specifically disallow price-gouging.

In approving the proposed contract, the ICANN Board cannot rely on assurances that "they wouldn't do this [abuse] because it would be suicidal".

It is *not at all* "suicidal" for a registry to start scaring it's captive customers a little: the intimidating effect that prices *may* be raised arbitrarily in the future will convince hundreds of thousands of small time domain name owners [such as myself] to take out long-term registrations.

Isn't it any business' holy grail to have its customers pay 10 years in advance?

The additionally intimidating shortcoming in the contracts is the short 45- day expiry/reregistration window. What would happen if there was no reminder and I forgot my re-registration? Could I really lose my decade-long investment? To a competitor?

Could re-registration now be on entirely new and onerous terms?

Can a registration fee become "protection money?"

Please Mr Jeffrey, rewrite these proposed contracts.

Keep the interests of the millions of  registrant-Stakeholders central.

Balanced registry contracts need to provide for a flexible mix of products, for registrations of between 3 months and up to 90 years, at a cost that reflects the actual cost of the registration service, plus a reasonable but regulated profit margin. Especially in .biz it is unrealistic to expect businesses not to have a longer than 10 year horizon for their domains.

Price regulation is the only way to keep the DNS free from commercial shark-feeding (with customers being forced to compete for the value of their own Domain Name!) and protection rackets.

Price regulation  is nothing new for utilities with customer lock-in.

Now ICANN is playing the role of DNS-industry regulator, it must also assume responsibility for protection of the "producers" of Domain Names.

Again, I appreciate having  the opportunity to have my concerns heard.
Owning less than 20 Domains, of which several in .biz, .info and .org, I am a typical small time Domain Name registrant.

I rely on ICANN for protection against potential pricing abuse by its accredited registries.

Yours faithfully,

Joop Teernstra

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